Why is deer hunting overwhelmingly popular worldwide? Or to be particular, why is white-tailed deer hunting?
As an expert, the first thing I like to mention is that deer hunting is addictive. Once you are susceptible to its lure, you’ll feel a hook pulling from deep inside your heart. That’s why it has been a tradition and passion for countless of generations. For example, Hunting and harvesting whitetails are found in Native American stories. Early explorers of West used whitetails and mule deer to meet their demand for food. No other outdoor activity entangles with our history and myth as inextricably as it does.
And why white-tailed deer? It’s because they are ubiquitous. Also, they are a success of hunter driven conservation story. Hunters affect managing deer population by not letting the herds stressing ecosystem. But it’s an irony that since the 20th century, a sharp decline in deer harvesting has been noticed in the USA. Nevertheless, state conservations department along with the hunters are making efforts for conservation.
Apart from availability, comparing to other species, whitetails are more challenging to hunt. Another reason why whitetails are popular is it’s mild flavor and health benefits.
That’s why Americans love deer hunting, whitetails in particular. And if you are willing to have the first deer hunting session clueless how to do that, then welcome. For you, we’ve compiled deer hunting guide for beginners. Let’s explore it and learn some deer hunting tips.
Choosing and knowing the weapon
First, decide whether you want to be a rifle hunter or other methods hunter. Apart from the rifle, you can pick crossbow, pistol, atlatl, or slug gun. But as a beginner, I suggest you start with a rifle as it’s the most accessible place to start. Now for choosing deer rifle, take the budget and fit in the count.
Now, look below for some budget friendly model of guns.
- Winchester Model 70
- Savage Trophy Hunter XP
- Remington Model 700
But never forget to try out the guns when you go for buying one. Shoulder it, manipulate the action, sight in objects on the ceiling and floor. Just see if it fits you, or you can handle it well. Now, it’s time for choosing gun calibers. Below there are a few common calibers for deer hunting.
- .270 Winchester
- .30-06 Springfield
- 7 mm Remington Magnum
If possible try shooting calibers before you buy one. If you can’t, read and watch reviews from the users.
Also, give adequate time in choosing the caliber and the gun that suits you best. It's worthy. Choosing the right ones for you means you have won 2/3 of the battle already.
As you start practicing, fix your target at 25 yards distance first. As soon as you get used to the gun, move the target at 100-yard distance. Thus, as a first timer, it’s a respectable distance. As you get more familiar with the gun, you can try for further shot placement.
The final step is acquiring certificate and license from the State Conservation Department. Regulations, as well as requirements including age, vary from state to state. Go through your State Conservation Department website or contact the nearby conservation office.
You have to register for the 4-hour certification course. The classes are free of charge. Then appear for the written exam. Only after passing it, you will be certified and able to buy the permits for the hunt.
Dressing suitable for the field
Dressing refers to outfitting yourself with hunting gears. Apart from the hunting rifle, the list below lies between your success and lose. Also, it’s between your life and death.
- Your permits
- Blaze orange vest and hat (keep it wear all the time), Boots, Packs (for hot weather hunting)
- Warm gloves, jacket, hoodies, insulated pants and hats, hunting boots, underwear (for cold weather hunting)
- A sharp knife and tall rubber gloves (for field-dressing the deer)
- A zip lock bag and zip tie
- A box of ammunition
- Tree stands i.e. Lock-on stands, Ladder Stands, Climbing stands
- Ground blinds
- Spotting Scopes
- A flashlight
- Hunting GPS
Where to hunt
The first step is to choose a location to track.
Hunting deer on public land is tougher to some extent. But at the same time, it could be highly productive and advantageous. There are usually three types of ownership- federal, state and local.
You have to lease, buy, improve it and introduce a food plot to it.
When to hunt
The Early Season and Tactics
During the late summer and early fall, quite a good number of deer hunting takes place. As deer remain pressured for nearly a year and they face food scarcity too, many find hunting easy then.
A few hours just after the rain is considered as one of the best time for hunting dear. You can check - Deer hunting after rain: tips and tricks.
The Pre-rut and Tactics
Many consider it toughest to hunt when September turns to October. But at the same time, it has its upsides. Food options become limited. The weather improves, and buck sign appears.
The Rut and Tactics
The time that defines whitetail hunting the best is the rut. The rut is the season when bucks pay all the attention to the wind. Therefore, they run willy-nilly across the landscape making it favorable to hunt.
The Post Rut and Tactics
This period is often referred to as ‘late’ season. Anyway, the tactics and experiences are mostly the same.
River and creeks are the prime locations for spotting deer. Especially where water flows gradually to the slopes.Travel corridors, fields, thickets are also ideal places to find deer.
Wooded areas having oak, apple or beech trees turn up as a good sign of the presence of deer
Boots on the Ground
Now, look close to the ground for the following signs.
Don’t forget to bring a map, aerial photos and if you’re technically savvy, bring a GPS instead.
Observing From a Distance
To find out the direction of their bedding area, notice from where they enter the field. But always maintain a certain distance. Ideally, it should be 300 to 400 yards between you and the feeding area. A 10X42 binoculars would be beneficial.
Setting up gears
As you have chosen a spot in an area that deer are using, now it’s time to setup the fundamentals. As a deer hunting guide for beginners, the following three deer hunting tips will keep you ahead.
Set up downwind. A deer depends on its sensible nose a significant degree. You can easily escape its sight. But once it smells you, you are caught. So before you hang a stand or set a ground blind, double check the predominant wind directions.
Sit Still and Hide. Though deer's sight isn’t as powerful as its nose, deer are incredibly able to spot movement. So try to stand still.
Be persistent. You may have to wait for day after day for a perfect shot. As you don’t know when a deer will appear and how long it’ll stay, you always have to be ready.
Deer hunting tips: calling and decoys
It can be one of the useful deer hunting tips if you can make it as natural as possible. As whitetails are more vocal and curious, calls like grunts, blasts can be effective.
Grunt Call is the most useful one regardless the season. Contact grunt, trailing grunt and tending grunt are the three types. The more aggressive the grunts are, the more quickly they will respond.
The snort-wheeze is made during the rut season only.
Rattling can attract bucks in all the seasons.
Though decoying deer isn’t tough, it can also prove you fool. Nevertheless during the fall, decoying is able enough to lure a mature buck.
Where to shoot the deer
It’s the most critical decision.
First of all, you need to understand, in a deer’s chest cavity, where the vital organs sit. You have to target there as it'll be more lethal. Whether its gun hunting or bow, the objective is the same.
Put the bullets behind the shoulder of a deer and hit the heart and lung area for one shot kill.
If you want to hunt with a bow, avoid straight-on shots that offer nothing but heartache. Rather choose straight-down shots which often produce single-lung hits. Don’t take a head-shot. It wouldn’t be ethical neither you can avoid the chance of deflection.
Shot well so that you can follow the blood trail.
Deer hunting tips for safety
- Check weather report
- Keep the map or GPS of that area with you
- Carry first aid kits
- Dress appropriately and avoid wearing white or tan
- If you carry a dog, make sure it also wears hunter orange or another bright color vest
- Keep a safe distance from your target
- Identify it clearly before shooting
- Always stay in the downwind direction
- Avoid making unnecessary noise
- Avoid unnecessary movement
- Keep aware all the time especially when deer approach near you
Lastly, don’t be too caught up in all those technical matters that you fail to feel the joy. As a beginner, it’s natural that you pay more focus on deer hunting tips or other strategies. But remember, Deer hunting is not just a mode of feeding your family. It’s also about maintaining tradition. Therefore, grasp the fun and excitement deer hunting offers you.
Just take care, due to the adrenaline rush, you don’t break any law of the state. This article will only work as a deer hunting guide for beginners. But there are a lot of other things which you’ll learn in the field.
Best of luck with your 1st trial.